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Fay, Herbert W. 

The Story of Lincoln's Tomb and 
its Three Constructions 




the Class of 1901 

founded by 




The Story^ of Lincoln's Tomb 


d It'; 

Tliree Constructions 


of the 




Privately Printed 


Compiled by Herbert Wells Fay, Custodian Lincoln Tomb 

"The Man With a Million Pictures" 


Springfield, Illinois 



First construction dedicated 1874. 
Second construction finished 1901. 
Third construction dedicated 1931. 
All on the same site. 

Compiled by HERBERT Wells Fay, Custodian of Lincoln's Tomb 

After the death of Abraham Lincoln, a campaign was put on covering every state 
and territory of the union, the state of Illinois donated $50,000 in addition to her quota 
as individuals. A few of the other state legislatures donated smaller amounts. It all 
made $180,000 and the monument was dedicated in 1874, President U. S. Grant delivering 
the address. The design accepted was that of Larkin G. Meade. He planned the struc- 
ture including base with tomb in the north end and memorial hall or register room at the 
south entrance. In addition to this, he modeled the four outside groups representing the 
four divisions of the department of defense — cavalry, infantry, artillery and navy, and 
he also designed the statue of Lincoln. The exterior was constructed of Quincy granite, 
the outer stone being about eight inch veneer with a sustaining wall of limestone and 

In 1900, on account of the insecure foundation and because of the constant freezing 
of moisture that congregated between the two walls, the whole structure had to be re- 
built. The foundation was sent down to bed rock and about twenty feet added to the 

An appropriation for $100,000 had been passed by the Illinois legislature for doing 
the work. 

An attempt had been made Nov. 7, 1876, to steal Mr. Lincoln's body from the stone 
coffin or sarcophaeus, and after the rebuilding, on Sept. 26, 1901, the body was en- 
closed in steel and cement and placed six feet from the north inner wall of the tomb and 
ten feet below the floor with head to the west. It had been placed in the receiving vault 
of the cemetery, May 4, 1865, and was moved to the temporary vault in December, 1865, 
and moved from the temporary vault to the tomb in 1871. 

In 1930 it was discovered that while the foundation was standing the test of time 
that moisture had been freezing and thawing between the two walls of the obelisk 
and as the sustaining column was so much stronger, the stones of the outer wall were 
thrown out of alignment, making rebuilding necessary. 

A million visitors had registered in the first fifty years and during the last twelve 
years another million callers had left their names. 

The increasing interest induced the administration to do something to please the 
touring throngs. On June 2, 1925, a bill that had passed by the legislature was signed 
authorizing the spending of $5,000 on the tomb. This was found inadequate and was 
not expended, but it paved the way for better things. Gov. L. L. Emmerson at once 
recognized the demands of the Lincoln friends and sponsored an appropriation for $175,- 
000 to do justice to the cause. Under the supervision of State Architect Charles Her- 
rick Hammond, plans were drafted making the interior of the tomb the last word in 
architectural beauty. These were approved by H. H. Cleaveland, director of the de- 
partment of public works, and English Brothers of Champaign, was given the contract 
for the work. In this construction the ext2rior walls are the same stone, same height, 
but all the arts known to the building trades have been employed to remedy the trouble 
of the first two constructions. 

It was not necessary to disturb Mr. Lincoln's body this time, but a cenotaph of red 
fossil from Arkansas was placed six feet and thirty inches fiom the north wall. It 
weighs seven tons and its foundation is as low as the cement enclosing Lincoln's body. 
No change was made on the exterior except three windows on each side of the spire 
were eliminated, increasing its beauty. 

There is no stairway in the obelisk in the 1931 construction. 

The generations of the direct line of Lincoln's family have in turn lived in Massa- 
chusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois and the state flags 
of these states are arranged back of the cenotaph, at the north end of the tomb. 


Across the hallway in front of the cenotaph are crypts, Mrs. Lincoln's body rest- 
ing in the one to the east or left of the visitor. Willie and Eddie repose in the next and 
Tad in the third, but Robert the fourth son is buried in Arlington National Cemetery, 
Washington, D. C, he being in the army service and entitled to be buried there. 

In the 1931 construction nine four-foot statues adorn the interior. Two of the 
numbers are new for here, are equestian are by Fred M. Torrey. The other seven are 
as follows: Leonard Crunelle's soldier of the Black Hawk war, at Dixon, 111.; St. Gau- 
dens' at Lincoln Park; Weinman's at birthplace; Crunelle's debater, at Freeport; Taft's 
at Urbana; French's standing, Lincoln, Neb.; and French's seated, memorial, at Wash- 
ington, D. C. The Borglum, large head, is placed in front at the entrance. 

The planting that attracts a lot of attention was made under the supervision of 
George Hodgkinson, the h ndscape artist. 

In the present construction the marble quarries of the world were searched to get the 
most pleasing combinations of colors obtainable and $50,000 was expended on the in- 
terior. In the registration room the pilasters are from Utah and the field from Mis- 
souri. The fields of the corner rooms are from Minnesota. The long hallway is from 
Italy and Spain. The tomb proper, the pilasters are from France and the field from 
Missouri. The floor, whitish marble is Roman travertine from Italy. It was dedicated 
June 17, 1931, Herbert Hoover, President of the United States, delivering the address 
The ceremony was witnessed by 40,000 people. 

No record of the new construction would be complete without recognition of the 
artistic touch of J. F. Booton, chief designer of Mr. Hammond's office. His work will 
be praised generations after he has gone beyond. 

The tomb is open every day in the year from 9 a. m. until 5 p. m., hours earlier or 
later on appointment, and is presided over by Custodian Fay and his assistant, Clarence 


Seven generations back of Abraham Lincoln was Samuel Lincoln who came from 
England and settled at Hingham, Mass., about ten miles south of Boston. His son 
Mordecai, six generations back of the President, was born at Hingham, Mass. His son, 
Mordecai, Jr., four generations back of Lincoln, was born at Hingham, but migrated to 
New Jersey, and later to Berkes County, Pennsylvania. This gives us the state flags 
of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. 

John, the son of Mordecai II, four generations back, located in Virginia, and here 
Abraham Lincoln, grandfather of the President, was born. He moved to Kentucky and 
was killed by the Indians. This gives the Virginia Flag. 

Lincoln, the President, his father, Thomas, and grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, 
killed by the Indians, all lived in Kentucky, making that State Flag next in the group. 

Lincoln himself and his father moved to Indiana in 1816 where they remained until 
18o0, giving for the collection the Indiana State Flag. Lincoln and his father came to 
Illinois from Indiana in the spring of 1830, making it necessary for the Illinois State 
Flag to complete the group. 


These are arranged in a semi-circle around the cenotaph, commencing with Massa- 
chusetts at the left and ending with the President's Flag at the right — next the Illinois 
State Flag. Directly back of the cenotaph between the Virginia and the Kentucky 
Flags is the "Stars and Stripes." The flags from the left to right are as follows: Mas- 
sachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, the U. S. Flag, Kentucky, Indiana, 
Illinois and the President's Flag. 

Illusti-ations, Herbert George Studio 


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